Mundelein High School students took first and second place among Class III Americanism Essay Contest entries submitted to the Mundelein American Legion Auxiliary and Post. Sophomores Matthew Willis and Alica Brak wrote responses to the question, "How to Promote Old Fashioned Patriotism While Recognizing Where We Have Fallen Short?" Their responses earned first place for Willis and second for Brak with cash prizes of $50 and $25, respectively. Judges from Mundelein’s American Legion Auxiliary #867 and Post #867 selected the winners.
Willis’ essay is now competing against first place essays from Lake County high schools in the Legion’s District 10 region. Results are anticipated in June. The annual essay contest is open to students in grades 3 to 12 and is co-sponsored by the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion Detachment of Illinois.
Willis’ essay addresses the human drive to innovate and the need to harness that same drive to strive for a more just society. Both actions require commitment, education, and reflection. Brak calls on U.S. citizens to embrace their patriotic duty to minimize polarization in all levels of government, in communities and even with neighborly relations.
The American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary sponsor contests and programs for students, the most well known of which is American Legion Baseball which fosters sportsmanship, patriotism and encourages active citizenship. In addition to the Americansim essay and Boys and Girls State programs, the American Legion sponsors a nation-wide oratorical contest. Many of the programs, established in the 1920s and 1930s, provide scholarship opportunities.